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Major Somnath Sharma Param Vir Chakra: The lives of great men inspire us phenomenally. The way they lead their lives, with sacrifice as the driving force, instils a sense of awe in us.
The life of Indian Army officer Major Somnath Sharma, who is the first-ever recipient of the Param Vir Chakra, is nothing less than a textbook example of how selfless one can be!
Born into an illustrious family of military men, traits like valour and sacrifice were ingrained in him at an early age. The holy text of Bhagavad Gita played a crucial role in his childhood as Lord Krishna’s teachings extensively influenced him to Arjuna. His grandfather taught him the holy text regularly, leaving him with a lasting impression. In fact, such the impact the scripture had on him that, even during wars, he used to keep a tiny book in his pocket all the time.
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In the immediacy of India gaining freedom, Pakistan invaded India in October of the same year. Sharma’s D Company of 4th Battalion of Kumaon Regiment, which he commanded, was airlifted to Srinagar. It should be noted that Sharma’s left hand was in a plaster cast as he had sustained injuries earlier. Though he was counselled to stay away from combat, he did not. His sheer will to fight the enemies and save the territory was foremost.
In November, Somnath Sharma’s D company was asked to patrol the Badgam area with a view to offset any attacks by the enemy camp. During one such afternoon, local residents opened fire at the Indian army. However, Somnath Sharma ordered his men not to retaliate, as he was concerned about civil casualties.
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Even as Major Somnath Sharma was doing his best to thwart the deaths of innocent civilians, as many 700 infiltrators attacked his company from all sides; though Sharma’s company were hopelessly outnumbered, they did not lose courage as he urged them to carry on with the fight. Most importantly, Sharma stood in the vanguard of the fight, ensuring he was the first in the line of fire. He fought valiantly and gallantly because he knew very well that the city of Srinagar and the airport would come under attack if he budged.
But sadly, even as he put up a brave front, a shell exploded on ammunition near him. Though he was in danger, he ensured he sent out a message to the headquarters: “The enemies are only 50 yards from us. We are heavily outnumbered. We are under devastating fire. I shall not withdraw an inch but will fight to our last man and our last round.”
However, by the time help had arrived, his company had suffered heavy casualties. Major Somnath Sharma and 20 others had been martyred. Only three days later, his body was found, but it had suffered disfiguration beyond recognition.
Even as it became difficult to identify Major Somnath Sharma’s body, the pages of the Holy Bhagavad Gita in his pockets ascertained his credentials.
As a recognition of his valorous fight in protecting his motherland, Major Somnath Sharma was awarded the Param Vir Chakra posthumously in 1950. Coincidentally, it was his brother’s mother-in-law who had designed the Chakra.
We hope this article on Major Somnath Sharma gave a glimpse into his meaningful life and inspired you to do great things. For more such articles, keep visiting Embibe.
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